Canadiens come up short against Ducks
Pacioretty leaves with injury
The Canadiens' bench was instantly deflated when Max Pacioretty went down injured.
Montreal lost both the game and its top scorer when the league-best Anaheim Ducks held on for a 2-1 victory after an animated third period at Bell Centre on Thursday.
With the Canadiens down 1-0, Pacioretty left the game four minutes into the final frame after taking a late hit into the boards by Anaheim's Clayton Stoner. Pacioretty, who never saw Stoner coming, spent several seconds on his knees on the ice before being helped to the dressing room by the Canadiens training staff. There was no penalty called on the play.
Concern for Pacioretty
"You know he's a leader because it felt like we had just lost the game when we lost him. That was a weird feeling," said David Desharnais, who added he thought Stoner deserved a five-minute boarding penalty.
"I saw the replay. I didn't see it live. For sure it's a penalty. Maybe more. We'll let the league decide."
Pacioretty had just made a pass out of the defensive zone when Stoner knocked him head first into the corner boards. He did not have his back to Stoner, but his body turned awkwardly as he fell into the glass.
Pacioretty sustained an upper-body injury on the play and was taken straight to the hospital for what coach Michel Therrien called "precautionary reasons." There is no indication how many games, if any, the left-winger will miss.
Stoner thought the check was clean and undeserving of a penalty.
"Their team wasn't happy about it," he said. "I didn't mean to hurt him, but the game is fast, and sometimes guys go into the boards wrong. I hope he's all right. I didn't have any intentions to hurt him."
Brandon Prust and Stoner dropped the gloves a few minutes after the hit, with the Habs winger sending the Anaheim defenceman to the ice.
Despite losing the fulcrum of their offense — Pacioretty leads the team with 13 goals and 25 points — Montreal responded with a goal less than two minutes later.
With Patrick Maroon in the penalty box for interference, Desharnais fired a one-timer past goaltender Frederik Andersen at 5:27 of the third after a clever cross-ice pass from Andrei Markov.
Montreal's celebrations, however, were short lived. At 8:33 of the third, with P.K. Subban just stepping out of the penalty box, Beleskey scored the winner by beating Carey Price top corner for his team-leading 15th goal of the year.
Ducks remain hot
The Ducks have now won eight of their last nine games. The Habs, meanwhile, had their three-game winning streak snapped.
"We didn't generate much offence, but we were in the game," said Desharnais. "It wasn't the most exciting game, but we have to get at least one point from a game like that. It's not like it was 4-0. We were still in the game."
Prior to puck drop, the Canadiens honoured former captain Saku Koivu, who retired from professional hockey in September after 13 seasons with the Habs and another five with the Ducks. After a video montage of tributes from fans, former teammates and trainers, an emotional Koivu thanked the city he called home for most of his career.
"I feel honoured and privileged to have served nine years as captain of the Montreal Canadiens," Koivu told the Bell Centre crowd. "Montreal truly is the most exciting place to play hockey. I'm truly humbled, and this night means so much to me and to my family. I will always be a Hab at heart."